ENGL 200 D: Reading Literary Forms

Travel Literature in the High Imperial Era

Meeting Time: 
MTWTh 12:30pm - 1:20pm
Location: 
DEN 211
SLN: 
13772

Syllabus Description:

Travel Literature in the High Imperial Era

Travels always inspire curiosity and fantasy. We never travel to foreign soils only to watch and record things and people in an objective manner but often understand them in our own ways. In other words, we “read” them like literary works whose meaning we interpret, or even distort, from our own subjective, limited perspective. Traveling to foreign lands has always been a rich source of literature and imagination. In turn, travel literature has always triggered people to explore other worlds. Travel literature has provided a number of images and texts from which we have learned of other cultures and civilizations as well as created images, or stereotypes, of them. And we know that those knowledge and stereotypes of other worlds and people often persist to date and frame our view to interpret or even discriminate against them. Oftentimes we ask: when did all those stereotypical representation of other worlds begin? How those biases of people different from us still play a role in misunderstandings and confrontations between races, countries or civilizations?

In this course, we are not going to attempt to find the “origin” of all the images of other cultures. Probably it is impossible. Instead, we will look at the time period from 1850 to 1950 in which the West’s producing of texts and images of other cultures dramatically accelerated due to technological developments such as the steamship, railroads or photography. As essential part of culture of the time, the texts and images supplemented, justified or sometimes problematized the West’s financial as well as military interventions on foreign soils. We will read literary texts from Britain during the period which center upon the themes of travelling to other worlds. They travel to other worlds for many reasons: exploration of other cultures, hidden treasure, spiritual and physical education, a source of wisdom that could revitalize the West, etc. The questions we will ask include but are not limited to: What are generic features of travel literature and how do those feature change throughout the time period we cover? How do the ways they represent other worlds change? What historical, economic and cultural transformations do those changes reflect and respond to? How do their portrayals of other cultures contribute to, or undermine, dominant ideological representations of other cultures and themselves? By attempting to answer these questions to our best ability, we will aim at developing close reading skills, interpreting texts by situating them in their historical and social contexts, articulating our own argument of given texts with proper evidence, growing as a critical thinker and writer, developing important skills and attitude to approach cultures or people different from us, and becoming a better person.

The course satisfies UW’s W (writing) as well as VLPA requirement: students will submit three 3 to 4 page papers with revisions. Other writing assignments include short reading journals and in-class writing activities.

Required Materials:

Ballantyne, Robert Michael (1825–1894): The Coral Island (1858)

ISBN-13: 9781499700527

 

Haggard, Henry Rider (1856 – 1925): King Solomon's Mines (1885)

ISBN-10: 0199536414

ISBN-13: 978-0199536412

 

Woolf, Virginia (1882 – 1941): The Voyage Out (1915)

ISBN-10: 0199539308

ISBN-13: 978-0199539307

 

Maugham, W. Somerset (1874 – 1965): The Razor's Edge (1944)

ISBN-10: 9781400034208

ISBN-13: 978-1400034208

 

Other materials will be made available electronically.

Additional Details:

"Travel Literature in the High Imperial Era"
Travels always inspire curiosity and fantasy. We never travel to foreign soils only to watch and record things and people in an objective manner but often understand them in our own ways. In other words, we “read” them like literary works whose meaning we interpret, or even distort, from our own subjective, limited perspective. Traveling to foreign lands has always been a rich source of literature and imagination. In turn, travel literature has always triggered people to explore other worlds. Travel literature has provided a number of images and texts from which we have learned of other cultures and civilizations as well as created images, or stereotypes, of them. And we know that those knowledge and stereotypes of other worlds and people often persist to date and frame our view to interpret or even discriminate against them. Oftentimes do we ask: when did all those stereotypical representation of other worlds begin? How those biases of people different from us still play a role in misunderstandings and confrontations between races, countries or civilizations?

In this course, we are not going to attempt to find the “origin” of all the images of other cultures. Probably it is impossible. Instead, we will look at the time period from 1850 to 1950 in which the West’s producing of texts and images of other cultures dramatically accelerated due to technological developments such as the steamship, railroads or photography. As essential part of culture of the time, the texts and images supplemented, justified or sometimes problematized the West’s financial as well as military interventions on foreign soils. We will read literary texts from Britain during the period which center upon the themes of travelling to other worlds. They travel to other worlds for many reasons: exploration of other cultures, hidden treasure, spiritual and physical education, a source of wisdom that could revitalize the West, etc. The questions we will ask include but are not limited to: What are generic features of travel literature and how do those feature change throughout the time period we cover? How does the way they represent other worlds change? What historical, economic and cultural transformations do those changes reflect and respond to? How does their portrayal of other cultures contribute to, or undermine, dominant ideological representations of other cultures and themselves? By attempting to answer these questions to our best ability, we will aim at developing close reading skills, interpreting texts by situating them in their historical and social contexts, articulating our own argument of given texts with proper evidence, growing as a critical thinker and writer, developing important skills and attitude to approach cultures or people different from us, and becoming a better person.
The course satisfies UW’s W (writing) as well as VLPA requirement: students will submit three 4 to 5 page papers with revisions. Other writing assignments include short reading journals and in-class writing activities.

Required Materials:
Ballantyne, Robert Michael (1825–1894): The Coral Island (1858)
ISBN-10: 1611044081
ISBN-13: 978-1611044089

Haggard, Henry Rider (1856 – 1925): King Solomon's Mines (1885)
ISBN-10: 0199536414
ISBN-13: 978-0199536412

Woolf, Virginia (1882 – 1941): The Voyage Out (1915)
ISBN-10: 0199539308
ISBN-13: 978-0199539307

Maugham, W. Somerset (1874 – 1965): The Razor's Edge (1944)
ISBN-10: 9781400034208
ISBN-13: 978-1400034208

Other materials will be made available electronically.

Catalog Description: 
Covers techniques and practice in reading and enjoying literature in its various forms: poetry, drama, prose fiction, and film. Examines such features of literary meanings as imagery, characterization, narration, and patterning in sound and sense. Offered: AWSp.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Writing (W)
Other Requirements Met: 
Status: 
Active
Last updated: 
March 16, 2016 - 11:20am